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StoryWalk project creates reading adventures

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East Hernando Library StoryWalk Kick-Off will take place on Sept. 16

Every good book takes the reader on a journey—a fanciful trip of the mind and the imagination that transports you to exciting new worlds. This is definitely the case at the East Hernando Branch Library StoryWalk, 6457 Windmere Road, Brooksville, where readers of all ages can embark on a literary adventure.

The public is cordially invited to the East Hernando StoryWalk Kick-Off and Open House, set to take place at the East Hernando Branch Library on Saturday, September 16th, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event will unveil the new StoryWalk feature along the library walking path. Refreshments will be served. At 10 a.m., a special storytime reading of a featured StoryWalk book will take place, followed by a craft. In celebration of National Library Card Sign-Up Month, patrons may sign up for a new library card or renew their existing card while attending this event.

The StoryWalk is intended to exercise both the mind and the body. As visitors trek along the walking path, they can pause to read laminated pages from a children’s book installed along the path. As they stroll down the path, they’ll be directed to the next page in the featured story. A new story will be featured every other month, thus whisking readers off on a new literary adventure.

To add yet another dimension to each reading adventure, guests can scan a featured QR code printed on each story page with their mobile device, allowing them to listen to the story read aloud.

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The StoryWalk Project, funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County, was inspired by a concept created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg–Hubbard Library. Storywalk® is a service mark registered to Ferguson.

According to Information specially prepared for The Hernando Sun by Jennifer Hodges, Branch Supervisor, and Valerie Martin, Branch Supervisor of the Hernando County Public Library System, StoryWalk is a collaborative effort.

“The idea to bring a StoryWalk to Hernando County was inspired by the Let’s Move in Libraries initiative, which focuses on increasing healthy living among Americans,” the information read. “The Hernando County Public Library partnered with the Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department and the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County to bring the StoryWalk to our residents. The StoryWalk signs were purchased with a grant from the Florida Department of Health.”

The StoryWalk will feature six stories per year and is the perfect family activity. “The StoryWalk is an ideal activity for families because it allows families the pleasure of reading wonderful children’s books aloud with all the joys and benefits of walking together outdoors,” the information read. “The StoryWalk allows families to participate on their own schedule. StoryWalk helps build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activities for children and their grown-ups. Doing things together as a family helps build values, traditions, and rituals that keep children connected to their families. StoryWalk is a perfect opportunity for parents and other adults to be their children’s first teachers while reading and playing outdoors.”

Cynthia Loftis-Culp, Library Services manager, feels that StoryWalk comes complete with a strong educational component. “Participating in a StoryWalk with a parent or caregiver gives children the opportunity to learn new words, describe things and events, enjoy and tell stories, learn how to follow a sequence, and hear and play with sounds and letters in words,” she said. “StoryWalk books not only build vocabulary but can also open the door to conversations about important issues like respect, kindness, forgiveness, and love.”

The inaugural StoryWalk book is “Bats Aren’t Birds” by Hernando County Author Alex Record. “I am so thankful to have my book featured in the StoryWalk. I have used the Hernando Library System so much throughout my life and am happy to be able to help promote literacy in our community,” said Record. “The StoryWalk looks great, and the audio recordings accompanying the text sound amazing! Everyone involved did an awesome job!”

For more information, visit https://hernandocountylibrary.us/eaststorywalk/

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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